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Science, uncertainty, and inference

Scientific development relies on empirical support. As Richard Feynman describes the development of a scientific new law in this video, The law is first guessed, then an experiment is performed and its implications compared with nature. Feynman continuous, “If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your guess is. It doesn’t make a difference how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.” One major problem is that empirical support in general is uncertain. Uncertainty is therefore fundamental in science, and according to Richard Feynman,“It is scientific only to say what is more likely and less likely”. This is were statistics plays a crucial role; the quantification of uncertainty is based on statistical inference. “Uncertainty in statistics is measured by the amount of error in an estimate” (1). Statistics is also known as the “science of uncertainty” (2-3).


  1. “Uncertainty in Science, Statistics.” Environmental Encyclopedia. 17 Jan. 2020 <>.
  2. Evans MJ, Rosenthal JS. Probability and Statistics. The Science of Uncertainty. W H Freeman 2003, USA.
  3. Lindley D. Understanding Uncertainty. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006, USA.
science_uncertainty.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/16 18:45 by ranstam